The Crown by Peter Morgan Season 6 [6/10]

I abhor the notion of royalty and have no time at all for the British royal family, but a skillfully executed, well-written drama trumps personal dislikes. All this is another way of saying that I have now spent something like two-and-a-half days watching a series called The Crown, and almost the entirety of the six seasons has been quality viewing. (Check out Season 3 (my review), Season 4 (my review), and Season 5 (my review).) Peter Morgan is an inspired screenwriter and producer and director, and he has roped in stellar cast after stellar cast (he changes core actors every two seasons). Every episode’s staging has been impeccable, the music does the job, and the production values and locales and cinematography are the definition of eye candy. Now the finale season, Season 6, is before us, and I have to admit that, unlike the first five seasons, I struggled to even watch half the episodes. The key theme of the six seasons has been to realistically portray one queen’s reign in the global and domestic political and cultural environments of the times, and the tone has mostly been respectful but honestly critical. In the final season, Morgan, perhaps needing to wrap up in a way that jibes with his audience, has hung the storyline on Princess Diana and Prince Harry, and, what’s more, his orientation edges toward romanticizing. Suddenly we are asked to respect, even revere, the Queen, the wayward princess, and the young king-in-waiting. Episodes that move outside the nonsensical inner world of the royals, for example those involving Tony Blair, retain narrative tension, but the inwardly focused episodes are cringeworthy and, more important, rosy-hued. I close my experiencing of The Crown with a sense of disappointment, but potential viewers might well discount my anti-royal attitude. As for the sixty-episode series, I would still class it as a masterclass in film drama.

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